Q&A: Hall of Famer Nick PriceENDICOTT, NY - AUGUST 16: Nick Price of Zimbabwe tees off on the second hole during the first round of the Dick's Sporting Goods Open at En-Joie Golf Course on August 16, 2013 in Endicott, New York. (Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
By Mark Williams, Champions Tour
Nick Price. the International Team Captain during the 2013 Presidents Cup, supplied answers to questions submitted by Champions Tour fans. Here’s what the three-time major champion had to say.
Q: What has been your favorite moment playing golf?
Breaking par for the first time. I was 13 years old and I had a four-footer on the last hole, a par-5 at my home club, and it was almost dark. I holed the putt and shot 71. It seems like a thousand years ago.
Q: You’ve always had a fast swing. What do you do to get the correct pace, rhythm and tempo for your swing?
Those three things are all related. For me, it all starts at the beginning of the golf swing. The first two or three feet of the golf swing sets everything up. If you have an upbeat pace you should be very wary not to snatch the club away from the ball so you can keep it smooth.
Q: What is your favorite meal before you play tournament rounds?
If I play early I stay away from red meat and probably eat fish or sushi. If I play late, that’s the time I’ll eat a steak.
Q: What is your most memorable round of golf and why?
The final round of the World Series of Golf at Akron, Ohio in 1983. I was basically a nobody and you had Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Isao Aoki and Hale Irwin in the field. It was the who’s who of world golf at that time chasing me and I think I ended up winning by four shots. I got a ten-year exemption which basically set up my whole career.
Q: What was the worst competitive round you’ve ever experienced?
The Dunhill Cup at St. Andrews, somewhere around 1997, was the coldest conditions I’ve ever played in. It was blowing 45 to 50 miles an hour the whole day. Bernhard Langer and I played each other it was the coldest most miserable day on the golf course of all time and all we could think about was getting back into the clubhouse and finishing. I can’t remember who won but I think it was the golf course that day.
Q: Where is the most out-of-the-way destination you’ve ever played?
I would probably say Brunei. We played a course in Brunei right on the equator. It was the hottest place I’ve ever played. It was one of the few golf courses that was floodlit so you could play at night.
Q: What is your favorite course in the USA?
Q: Is it difficult to watch guys play in a team event and not be competing yourself?
It really is, but at my age, at my stage in the game and the quality of my golf, I’d rather be watching or captaining.
Q: How important was team chemistry in your picks?
Team chemistry is probably the single most important thing and when I talk about chemistry I’m talking about morale, team spirit, whether two players combine well, or if the whole team combines well. If you talk about the whole team, good chemistry can lift every player’s game and inspire every player on that team.
Q: How did you balance current performance with past performance when making your picks?
Current form was really important to me. Golf is a game of momentum and you want players to get on a roll and we’ve seen that over the years when a guy starts playing well he holds onto it. When I was on a roll for four or five years I honestly felt that it wasn’t whether I was going to shoot under par, but how much under par. It’s all about momentum.
Q: Is there a memorable round that you and Presidents Cup U.S. Team Captain Fred Couples played together?
He beat me 1-up in the 1994 Presidents Cup at Robert Trent Jones. We got to the 18th hole and I drove it in the bunker on the left and he hit the most incredible second shot. There’s a huge slope on the right side of the green and he used that slope to his advantage, rolling his ball rolled down to a foot and I had to give it to him. He beat me 1-up.
Q: Can you share your thoughts on the ‘rock-star’ image of some of the younger players today?
Golf has always had its fair share of characters and that’s no different today. It’s wonderful to see players who have a rock-star image but can also back it up with the way they play.
Q: As a kid, what motivated you to seek a career in professional golf?
We didn’t know much about professional golf when I started playing golf. It was only when I was about 14 or 15 that we really realized we could make a living at it. I played cricket, rugby, field hockey and did athletics. I wasn’t particularly good at any of them but I was pretty good bowler in cricket. I think the best thing about golf was being able to go and practice and get better without having to wait for ten other teammates and that’s one of the things that really appealed to me about the game. Golf is something that I could practice really hard on my own and it was self-motivating.
Q: Who was your role model as a youngster?
My two older brothers, Kit and Tim. We grew up playing so much golf and they helped me tremendously.
Q: Did you try to swing like anyone else when you were a kid?
Ben Hogan and Simon Hobday from back home in Zimbabwe were the two ball-strikers I admired the most.
Q: What’s the best hole in golf, maybe not your favorite, but the best?
It’s hard to choose between the 17th hole at St. Andrews and the 12th hole at Augusta National. They are so different. The 17th hole at St. Andrews defies every great thing about a golf hole. It’s a blind tee shot over the hotel, then you have a road behind the green, one of the few times you ever have a road as a hazard. You’ve got out of bounds marked by a stone wall all the way down the right side and behind the green. The green is angled from right to left going away from the player and you have a very deep pot bunker protecting the left front. It’s just a terrifying golf hole and because it’s the 71st hole there’s always a lot of drama at any tournament or championship played there. The 12th at Augusta National is one of the most cleverly designed holes I’ve ever played. The green angles away from the player from left to right. For the right-handed golfer, the two bad shots he hits are a pull, which goes further, or a weak push to the right, which goes shorter - if you hit either of those two shots at the 12th you’re basically looking at double bogey. However, for the left-hander I’ve always felt it’s a much easier hole. If the left-hander pushes it out to the left he’d hit the front of the green. If he comes over the top and pulls it, he hits it long and right which is fine. It’s a really, really clever hole.
Q: What was your most memorable win?
Probably the 1994 Open Championship. I came back from three strokes down with three holes to play at Turnberry which made it all the more special.
Q: What was it like going head-to-head with Seve Ballesteros at the 1988 Open Championship?
Seve was three months younger than I am and he was an idol of mine. It’s strange to have a person younger than you that you look up to but he was such a brilliant golfer, so creative and so flamboyant. Playing against him was really hard that day but I just tried to play the golf course and not play Seve and I think I did a pretty good job of it.